Monday, March 31, 2008

70's Cleansing

So, we closed on our house in Cary, NC on Friday and I put my remodeling crew right to work. And by crew I mean my in-laws, Howard & Judy. For some reason they keep volunteering for the grunt work. And who am I to say no when it makes them so happy? Oh, the sacrifices a loving son-in-law has to make.

First order of business? Wallpaper removal. All 6 rooms of it. Here are some before, during and after shots:

What's next? Not much. Just a complete kitchen overhaul, scraping popcorn ceilings, repainting every room in the house and new flooring install. I'm sure Howard and Judy will have it done in a couple of days.

More updates to come.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life In The Last Row...

Last night I went to an NHL hockey game. Yes, Raleigh DOES have a pro sports team.

Now, I've never been much of a hockey fan, but I have seen a few games live. This particular trip was inspired by my friend and co-worker Shawn- who played professional hockey in the Canadian minor leagues.

We sat in the last row. Not just proverbial, but literally. Here are some pics:

(my buddy Shawn, waiting for a good fight to break out)

(the view to my right- yep that's the back wall at the top of the whole arena)

(View of the action. Not bad seats really.)

Had a good time at the game, but noticed some things while I was there:
  • Friendship takes you places. I probably wouldn't have gone to the game without Shawn's prompting. Knowing it was special to him made me enjoy it even more. Friends enlarge our perspectives and experiences.
  • Community closes gaps. It is a lot of fun rooting for the home town team. Of the 20K of us at the game, I'm guessing many of us didn't know or care much about hockey before the Hurricanes came to town. Rallying around a common cause puts us on the same team. Need proof? Complete strangers talked to, cheered with and high fived each other last night. Even the sober ones.
  • Enjoying life tames envy. 99% of the folks in the building had better seats than we did last night. But I didn't care. I was enjoying myself and didn't think to compare my experience or view to others.
Good reminders. Guess the ticket was worth the price last night.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Is This The Devil....Or God Talking To Me?

Some people like to joke that "technology is of the devil". Over the last few days I'm starting to believe it. On Friday I had a pretty long list of work items to get done by the weekend. Most people are tapering their work lives off on Fridays. I'm still building up to Sunday. And this particular Sunday was Easter, a day when every church leader wants to give their best.

I'd been working for about an hour that morning when I saw "the grey screen of death" appear on my laptop. The short version is that my hard drive expired prematurely. Which was totally unexpected since it ate a low fat diet, did lots of cardio and meditated frequently to manage the stress of the gazillion calculations it ran daily.

Despite losing a big chunk of my work for Easter Sunday, I rallied and was ready to go. Of course Jen deserves credit too- first for talking me down off of the balcony railing, and then for understanding that I needed to work a little overtime. Crisis managed. Disaster averted.

So this morning, I got up a bit early to ensure a super productive Monday. I think I was hoping to begin this week on a positive note since the previous one had ended so hectically. Caffeine on board, I fired up my loaner laptop and went to log on to my Gmail account. Not only did I need to send some messages, but I remembered that some of the data I lost when my previous machine crashed was floating out in cyberspace since I'd emailed it to other folks.

And then my Gmail wouldn't load. Or re-load. Or re-re-load. 8 hours later I still can't access it. This is the part where you can insert your favorite profanity or pseudo-profanity if you have/use one. Technology truly is of the devil. Or maybe not.

Since my email was down, I spent the day running errands and Jen tagged along. Her folks had just rolled into town, so our free baby sitting is back! (This news is almost good enough to offset my computer woes.) So instead of holing up all day staring at a computer screen, I got to hang out with my wife sans kids. Maybe dark spiritual forces are at work in my techno world. Or maybe God is telling me to take a break today.

Until one of them takes credit, I guess I'll just enjoy what the day has brought. And keep checking to see if my Gmail account is back up.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Confession (Good Friday)

Easter is pretty nice event- whether you consider yourself a Christian or not. Spring is right around the corner. Family meals are planned. Eggs are dyed. Chocolate bunnies are beheaded. Once-a-year treats are gobbled up. (Peeps, Robin Eggs, mint M & M's or Cadbury Eggs anyone?) Maybe we even throw in some lillies, new clothes and a nice church service in there too.

But there's a darker side to the Easter holiday for those who are interested in Jesus- Good Friday. The joy of the empty tomb only comes courtesy of suffering and death. The idea that "Jesus is Alive" means what is does because Jesus was once dead and gone. Although we may not usually pay much attention to this part of the Easter season, it gives us some great opportunities to reflect, confess and maybe even grieve. Of course, getting into those modes don't happen automatically or easily for all of us.

With that in mind I wanted to share a song with you that's helping me move in that direction. Here are the lyrics. For a fuller effect, listen to a preview of the song (track 8) or download the full monty for 89cents HERE.

Let’s Confess It
Words and music by Brian McLaren, 2007
Let’s confess it: there’s a lot of evil, lust and greed in our world. Oppression and sin build up pressure within until there’s an eruption of corruption. Beneath the skin, we skid and spin in spiritual crisis where vice is the norm, and justice, kindness, humility, and civility are all too rare.

Unaware of our despair, we smile in denial and say “It’s all OK. No need to change, no need to grow, just have another drink or smoke, tell another joke, and don’t think or rethink. Make another buck, with some luck you can buy a bigger house, store more stuff, drive fast, look good, keep up.”

Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Meanwhile, addiction, rejection, and a lack of reflection spawn friction, dejection and a loss of direction. Every family, community, and nation are shaken. Creation’s resources are carelessly taken. And pollution scars every ocean, mountain, breeze, and shore, with visible symptoms of our inner war.

We’re all victims. We’re all villains. We’re stuck in the web that we spun ourselves. But God lights a spark of hope in the dark to help us cope with all that’s wrong and needs to be made right. God has come into all our pain, shame, and loss through the cross, and calls us to a path of life, love, purpose, and peace.

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

If we humble ourselves to believe and receive, a river will flow and a candle will glow in a secret sacred place within us, very deep, where we have been wasting in shadows, halfdead or half-asleep. We’ve been falling in a vicious viral downward spiral that leads to death. Let’s wake up, hear God calling, take a deep, fresh breath.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

“We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and please forgive, that we may finally and fully learn to live in dignity and unity, integrity and harmony, delighting in your will and walking in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.”

Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
May each of us realize and confess the mess that we're in and seek that mercy and restoration that Jesus offers us.

Happy Good Friday

Saturday, March 15, 2008

In With The New

Last week we decided that we needed to get back in the house hunt, so we hooked up with a local realtor and went to see a listing that we'd had our eye on for the last month or so. The home already had an offer pending, but we decided to stop by anyway.

That night we submitted an offer. The next day we had a contract to purchase it. Our closing date is set for March 28th.

HUH? We still can't believe things have gone so quickly and smoothly.

The home was built the same year that Jen was born (1976) and has had only one owner. Ms. Esser is 87 and (according to her grown daughter) suffers from a bit of OCD. The benefit to us is that she has maintained the house with a vengeance. Our home inspection this am revealed nothing significant.

While the inspector worked, I was able to snap a few pictures. We love the neighborhood, big lot (.4 acres) and tons of trees in the yard.

Although this isn't the biggest home we've looked at (just under 1800sq ft), it uses the space well. And we're excited to be done with stairs since this is a single story. The inside is in move in condition- IF you've got a serious 70's fetish. So we'll stay in the apartment an extra month so that we can do some updating.

We'll keep you up to date as we close and renovate.

Thanks again to all who have played a part in this- both our real estate professionals (Sarah, Matt & Sheila) and our incredible crew of friends and family who have prayed so faithfully for us.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Out WIth The Old...

Today we officially sold our home in Lexington. Not sure whether to cheer or let out that deep breath I've been holding. But either way, I'm grateful.

Thanks to the large group of you who prayed about this for and with us.

Although it didn't happen as fast as we might have liked, I think God's timing is going to prove to be perfect.

We really appreciate Jess Stephan's willingness to impersonate us at closing and forge our names- via a legal, limited, power of attorney- of course.

And we can't forget Bryan Carter's real estate wizardry which enabled him to sell our home after only 2 days of listing it. Thanks for making this hassle free for us B! If you live in Lexington and need a realtor- holler at my boy.

Look for a post in the next couple of days on Raleigh house developments.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sub Shop Platitude...

Seen on a wall in one of my regular lunch spots:

"The gap between more and enough never closes."
Is this true in your world?

Is this a problem in your mind?

Is there/what is the fix?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Our First Visit To The Carolina Coast...

A month ago, some friends (Scott & Sarah Sutton) invited us to come and hang out at the beach with them for a couple of days. Leave the story there and it sounds nice enough. But there's more.

Scott told us that we'd be going to Atlantic Beach. Since we knew nothing about the NC beaches, that really didn't mean much. We (our family, the Suttons & a mutual friend Casey) left after work on Thursday, stopped in Smithfield for some authentic Carolina BBQ at the original Smithfield's location, and then meandered along some local highways until we rolled into our digs long after dark.

"Staying at the beach" can mean a lot of things- condo, dive motel, rental house, etc. This weekend it meant that we were staying at the Sutton family beach house. Scott's great grandfather built the house 60+ years ago, right on the beach. In addition to an unbeatable location, the space provides the luxurious ambiance that comes from four generations of family and friends creating decades of memories in the same place. (I experienced the same thing when I visited my wife's family lake house that had been in their family for 100 years.)

From the moment we walked into the Sutton's beach house, I felt comforted. The smell was the first thing to hit me- a soothing aroma blended from aged wood, salt, well used furniture, sand, treasured shells scavenged from the beach, peeling paint and hints of last season's sunscreen. Shifting senses, I began to notice the character that comes from lots of loving use and the constant assault of the beach elements. I'd seen the "beach cottage" look recreated in suburban homes. Seeing the real thing in person was much more charming.

After settling in for the night, we got up and took an early morning walk on the beach- hoping to beat a huge band of rain that was looming large and dark. We spent about 1/2 hour combing the shoreline for shells- like bargain hunters browsing a neighborhood yard sale. All in all Addy brought home about 10 shells and Scott helped her identify all of them in a shell guide. We spent the afternoon at the Pine Knolls Aquarium. Well worth the $8. The exhibits were attractive and natural. We attended a couple of lectures (one on turtles- Addy's favorite) and saw a feeding at the large salt-water aquarium (which include sharks, eels and a giant grouper).

Naps, dinner, q&a, storytelling, reading and crossword/sudoku solving rounded out the evening. We woke Sat am to some serious wind. The rain came and went, but the wind was constant. Eventually, we all got brave enough to venture out.

Even though we didn't get to stay as long as we liked, our first venture to the Carolina Coast was a success. Thanks, Scott, Sarah and Casey for letting us tag along and making us feel so welcome!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Two Occasions...

Sorry I hadn't posted in a few days. While the blog was silent, we had a couple of nice events in the Turner household.

1. Colston turned 11 months old today.

He isn't walking yet, but took his first lunge on two legs the other night. Colston's a much pickier eater than Addy was at this age. He is pretty skeptical of whatever you give him- always making a "that's disgusting" face on the first bite of everything. So far, he's a big fan of sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and most fruit. He also ate a few bites of a chicken nugget for the first time yesterday.

2. We made our first visit to a park since we moved to Raleigh.
It's around the corner from our house and has lots of things to jump, climb, swing and slide on.

And Pending:
We're making our first trek to the Carolina coast this weekend with some friends. Will update you when we get back.